Friday, February 5, 2010

Abagnale the Pier 39 Sea Lion Returned to the Wild

Host unlimited photos at for FREE! Abagnale, the Pier 39 sea lion entangled in a fishing line and who was rescued nearly 100 miles away, has recovered from his injuries and was released back into the wild today.

Host unlimited photos at for FREE!'There was a wonderful audience to see him go, with members of the public, school groups and the media,' said Marine Mammal Center spokesman, Jim Oswald this afternoon.

Abagnale was released at Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands, not far from the Center's Sausalito headquarters, at about 12.15 pm.
Host unlimited photos at for FREE!

Yesterday, the Center put out a press release giving Abagnale a clean bill of health. 'Veterinarians gave Abagnale a second examination this week and it appears that there are no other medical complications. His wounds are showing signs of healing, he’s active, eating and is quite feisty!

Host unlimited photos at for FREE!
'Veterinarians feel confident that he’ll thrive wonderfully back in the ocean.' 

Are staff sorry to see him go?

'No! On the contrary!' They are very happy,' said Jim. 'This is a story of successful treatment and of an animal being able to return to the wild.'

Abagnale was dehydrated and malnourished when captured but today is returning to the ocean weighing a healthy 347 lbs, a gain of 46 lbs from when he was admitted into the center on January 24.
Host unlimited photos at for FREE!
In the animal hospital he was kept in a private pen for his recovery due to the fact that he had been entangled for several weeks, and was also stressed from the many rescue attempts and being in a strange place.

But with rest and antibiotics he soon began to recover and found his appetite. He ate just over 100 lbs of herring during his 13-day stay!
Host unlimited photos at for FREE!
The specialist rescue team logged just over 280 hours of rescue time, a major feat as this compares with about 900 hours over the whole of last year.

His rescue was 'not completely unique but it was traumatic,' said Jim. The rescue team of 14 trained volunteers, lead by Sue Pemberton - pic - are trained specifically with the benefit of the center's experience of 35 years and over 15,000 marine mammal rescues.

And safety both of the animals and the team is their concern. As Marjorie Boor, who scoured the seas in a rescue boat around Fisherman's Wharf and Alcatraz in the hunt for Abagnale said of sea lions, 'They are intelligent. You can look them in the eye and tell there's some connection there. But make no mistake, they'll bite your arm right off.'

Most of the animals needing to be rescued are entwined in marine debris such as plastics, netting, fishing line and crab-pot lines.

Abagnale's story illustrates the point. 'It represents the danger of marine debris and how it can affect marine mammals,' said Jim. He urged people to 'take a second look' at how their behaviour can cause marine debris.

And they are emphasising this point on the Center website.

Abagnale was first spotted late in the evening of New Year's Day at Fisherman's Wharf but a rescue attempt was postponed until daylight the following day for safety reasons. Soon after that, however, he swum nearly 100 miles to Moss Landing and was next seen five days later in Monterey Bay.

It also marks a 'first' in the way center staff were able to capture him. After three weeks and 20 rescue attempts the elusive Abagnale - he was named after Leonardo diCaprio's character in 'Catch Me If You Can' - had mild sedatives shot into him to slow him down while in the water.

Animals are not normally sedated in water in case they drown.

pics from the Marine Mammal Center photographer, Maria de Stafanis.

For more pics and info, and a video:

No comments: